The influential French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique have given three prospective British & Irish Lions a New Year's boost by including them in their 2008 Dream XV.
Welsh Grand Slam backs Lee Byrne and Shane Williams figure among the threequarters, while Scottish scrum half Mike Blair wins the nod for the No 9 jersey. The 2007 XV included only one player from the four Home Unions, England and Sale Sharks prop Andrew Sheridan.
There are only two Springboks in the side - centre Jean de Villiers and hooker Bismarck du Plessis - while the form team of 2008, the All Blacks, provide four players. Dan Carter, now playing in France with Perpignan, is the only New Zealander behind the scrum, but Richie McCaw, Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock feature in the forwards.
There are three Australians, spearheaded by skipper Stirling Mortlock, two Frenchmen and one Italian, IRB Player of the Year nominee Sergio Parisse. The 2007 side included eight players from the World Cup winning Springbok side.
Midi Olympique Team of 2008
Lee Byrne (Wales); Lote Tuquiri (Australia), Stirling Mortlock (Australia), Jean de Villiers (South Africa), Shane Williams (Wales); Dan Carter (New Zealand), Mike Blair (Scotland); Tony Woodcock (New Zealand), Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), Nicolas Mas (France), James Horwill (Australia), Ali Williams (New Zealand), Thierry Dusautoir (France), Richie McCaw (New Zealand), Sergio Parisse (Italy).
Meet the members of the WRU's inaugural Youth Board - after an online selection process which saw a host of high calibre candidates submit video applications the WRU has made its first 15 appointments.The board is made up of individuals aged between 16 and 21, and will meet for the first time at Principality Stadium on Monday 15th February.
The Wales Women's team headed to Dare Valley Country Park on a team bonding exercise as the entire squad got together for the very first time in preparation for this season's Six Nations championship which kicks off on Saturday with a clash against defending champions Ireland, in Donnybrook.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland discusses his team selection for the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations where he leads his side against Ireland, on Sunday. As WRU TV's Luke Brodley discovers, Gatland is fully aware of the challenges the defending champions pose